SPOKANE, Wash. - Paul Wulff was relieved of his duties as WSU Head Football Coach after a 10 a.m. meeting Tuesday with Athletic Director Bill Moos.
"Paul and I met at length Sunday, and then again today, after which I determined the best path for Cougar football moving forward is to have a change of leadership," said Moos.
"I appreciate all that Paul has done for Washington State football. He was hired with the objective of rebuilding this program and establishing a solid foundation. For that I thank him."
At a 2 p.m. press conference Tuesday, Moos said that he had made his decision up to dismiss Wulff Sunday following the Cougars' loss to the Huskies in the Apple Cup. He went on to praise Wulff's leadership of the football program, but said that the program was at a critical juncture and something needed to be done to energize the WSU fan base and university boosters.
"I feel we have apathy in our fan base," Moos said, adding bluntly that there are "no butts in seats."
Moos said that the university has to put the football program in a position to compete in the PAC-12 and do it quickly. But to do that there need to be changes to the program and the facilities at the Pullman campus.
"This place deserves big name people. This won't happen until we have adequate facilities and change the mindset of [the] fanbase," Moos said. "We've gotta run with the big dogs or admit that we're a door mat. We can't embrace mediocrity."
"We've got to fill the seats, we have to win six, seven games, we have to win bowls."
Right now, the Cougs are able to win maybe one out of every four Apple Cups; Moos says as part of the reinvigoration of the program to make it a contender he wants that to change.
"I want to get the program to where the Huskies beat the Cougars once every four years," he said.
Shortly after Moos left the room, a visibly emotional Wulff entered the same room to hold his press conference. He took several minutes to thank everyone that supported the football program, from the trainers that helped keep athletes healthy to faculty members who worked to help football players academically.
Wulff looked back at his four years as the head coach and said that while "I would've never not taken this position" he lamented that he wished things could have gone differently from the day he arrived in Pullman, but there were things going on that were out of his control.
"Every decision I made was in the best interests in growing the Cougar football program," Wulff said, adding that his decisions were about the football program, and not business decisions.
Looking forward, he said that he had thought that this year the team was poised to win six to seven games, but whoever takes over the program probably will inherit "an eight to nine win team next year" due to the depth of the talent in the program.
"We are close to that level of building Cougar football to be a championship contender," he said.
Wulff said that he hoped that when people look back at the program during his tenure they would see all the changes, the progress that was made in player recruitment, to help set the team up for future success during his four years as head coach. On the other hand there were moments when Wulff sounded angry when talking about his dismissal.
"The great thing about being a Coug is we stick together and we don't eat our own," he said. "The innocence of Wazzu has been lost today."
Wulff's tenure comes to an end after the Cougars suffered a 38-21 loss in the Apple Cup last Saturday, putting his record as Head Cougar at 9-40 after four seasons. Four of those wins came during the 2011 season, including an upset of Arizona State and a last-minute victory at Colorado. They finished the 2011 season with a 4-8 record.
Wulff was hired in December, 2007, following the five-year tenure of Bill Doba, and leaves with one year remaining on his original five-year contract. He was guaranteed a year's severance pay of $600,000 if he was let go before the end of his contract.
Wulff was the third PAC-12 coach to be fired this week. On Monday, Dennis Erickson was fired from ASU and Rick Neuheisel was fired as head football coach at UCLA.
"This can be a nasty, cruel business but at the end of the day we need to be winning here. We need to win championships," Moos said.
"We will begin the process of naming the next head coach immediately," Moos said in a press release earlier in the day. "I will not be discussing details of the hiring process, only that I expect to name a successful candidate as soon as possible."
As for Coach Wulff's future, he said that his wife wants him to start coaching again and that if something comes up that's right and is healthy he'd consider it. He said that he had no regrets about his stay in Pullman, adding that "I don't think we could have done anything differently than we did."
Wulff wore a white button down shirt with a crimson Cougar logo emblazoned over the left breast. A veteran player who worked his way up from a redshirt freshman to four years as a member of the Cougs offensive line, while he left his final press conference as head coach, he remains a Cougar, fiercely proud of his alma mater to the end.
"I've got no bitter feelings regarding Washington State," Wulff said. "I would not hesitate to come back."
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